As teachers, we have come to believe that the martial arts graduation (and specifically the jiu-jitsu belt graduation) is the most important part of what we do. The reason is simple: it is the acknowledgement and recognition of progress following a demanding, laborious and often challenging experience.
The reason is simple: I remember growing up without a feeling any real accomplishment or acknowledgement whenever I tried, and I think a lot of human beings feel that way. I think a lot of people are working very hard at things they care about in their lives, like Jiu-Jitsu, but never feel appreciated in their efforts. They never feel like they’re going anywhere. They’re always left with a comparison to someone better or someone worse, and can never be evaluated on their own terms.
This is exactly why we have set things up the way we have in our own schools – allowing the experience to be an expression of dignity and honor – and we are so proud of the students who have followed through on their promises to themselves. The acknowledgement of progress has become a principle for us.
As teachers, we are amazed and excited for the students’ future as black belts, for their progress, for the dramatic implications of such a course of martial arts study.
Gene Dunn (@shihandunn) is a 30-year veteran of the martial arts with black belts in Shotokan Karate, Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Brian Glick is a second-degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under John Danaher and Renzo Gracie, and holds the honor of being the first recipient of the shodan rank in judo under Sensei Teimoc Johnston-Ono. They have dedicated their time to the propagation of martial arts to students through safe, effective, non-competitive methods. Together they operate Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, home to over a thousand students training Jiu-Jitsu in a collaborative learning environment.